Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Trail

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go......”

Recently, I took some time off. In a move that was totally uncharacteristic of me, I took off on my own – not even sure which day I’d be back or where I was spending my last night. On the drive back that last day, I stopped at McGee Creek State Park in Oklahoma to do some hiking. I texted Carl to let him what I was planning, knowing that sometimes cell coverage can be spotty out on the trail. When I got to the park, I pulled into the visitor center (closed on Sundays) and headed to the box marked “park maps” outside the door. I was disappointed to see there were no trails marked on the map, but I decided to drive around and at least enjoy the lake. I parked near the lake and walked along the shore. I found a suitable rock and sat for awhile with my feet in the cool water -- just enjoying the peace and quiet of a basically deserted park.

A little later, I headed back to the truck to drive around the rest of the park. I took a turn towards the lake huts just to check them out for future reference and at the end of the road I saw a sign marking a trailhead. I couldn’t make out the trail just looking out from the truck, though, so I parked and walked up to the sign. I still wasn’t positive I could see the trail, but I took what looked like might’ve been a trail up the hillside. Once I was up the hill just a little way, the trail was more clear and I felt comfortable taking off to follow it. At times I was a little nervous about losing the trail – a few months ago we’d missed a trail at Inks Lake and ended up circling the same loop something like 2-3 times trying to find the branch out! And now... I was alone... and breaking every single rule about hiking that I knew! I’d taken absolutely no provisions – not even water. I was hiking in an area I was totally unfamiliar with (and I realized after I was a good bit into it that for all I knew there could’ve been mountain lion sightings in the area – I mean, we’ve had them near my home and my parent’s home in Indiana this year, after all!). No one knew exactly where I was (Carl knew the name of the park, but had no clue I would’ve taken a little used lane down to the lake huts). And... did I mention I was alone? So with all that in the back of my mind, anytime the trail went around a corner or became a little harder to make out, I turned and looked back to make sure I could easily recognize the trail behind me. Each time I checked, it seemed very clear. No problem. Eventually, though, I came to an area where the trail became harder to distinguish and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. I turned around and headed back.

Funny thing on the way back, though. Several times I started to get a little concerned as I looked ahead and lost sight of the trail. I’d start to panic just a little... but then I’d get right up to the point where I couldn’t see the trail anymore and realize it just went around a bend. I could still make it out with no problem. I just had to be right there before I could see it. I had to keep walking even when I couldn’t see where the trail went... and only then would the trail be revealed.

Sigh.... Yup. Life metaphor hammering me. Walking without a visible trail in sight is not always a pleasant experience for someone who likes to know where she’s going. And yet... God has a habit of doing that very thing to us:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country,
your people and your father’s household
to the land I will show you. – Genesis 12:1

Uh huh.... Just gotta keep walking....



Saturday, August 28, 2010

Perfect Timing

This particular blog entry isn't so much about my something to say, but more about something to share... and God's perfect timing... and His perfect care of a 14yo girl very special to me.    "I know the plans I have for you...."

On Monday afternoon, the kids and I were trying to think of something fun to do on their last "free" day of summer.  Our efforts were a little hampered by the fact that it was incredibly hot out... and Jess was insisting she wanted to do something outside.  The rest of us, I have to admit, were telling her "no way!"  But as a guilt-ridden mother (wondering why I hadn't just planned something ahead of time), I pulled out my phone and typed "Lake Georgetown Boat Rental" into the Google search-bar.   Yes, those of you familiar with Lake Georgetown probably know that pretty much nothing fits that search.  But the search did pull up an article on Lake Georgetown which mentioned a fishing guide who worked the area.  As my kids complained from the backseat that we were just sitting there (not doing anything), I clicked onto the website for Holding the Line Guide Services.  I was intrigued --  Bob Maindelle is a local children's pastor who offers "Kids Fish Too!" trips at a very reasonable cost, and free to kids of our active servicemen.  Not that we qualify for that last part, but it hints at something about the man behind it.  Very cool.  I figured I might just have to arrange a fishing trip for my daughter (who had been missing fishing at my parents' home in Indiana since we'd arrived back in Texas four weeks ago).

Later that evening at home, I clicked through the website on my laptop and saw a tiny blurb at the bottom of one of the pages that mentioned "Custom Trips."   It read "If you've got something out of the ordinary in mind ... like bowfishing for gar, jugfishing for catfish, flycasting to carp or drum ... just let me know. I've probably done it and would be glad to introduce you to these pursuits. Sorry, no requests for ice fishing can be accommodated."  I laughed at the last line, but one word really caught my attention:  "bowfishing."  Jess has been taking archery lessons for almost two years and has been researching bow-fishing for several months.  In fact, she had just last week purchased (with her own money) a bow-fishing arrow and line.  Honestly, I thought she was a little nuts at the time... where on earth would we take her bow-fishing?  She was going to have money invested in gear that we would have no way to use....  Uh huh... yeah.  Ye of little faith, Mom!  I should know better....

So...  sitting at my laptop, looking at a website for a guy who obviously does well with kids (video on his site cinched that), with a family-friendly outfit and reasonable kids' pricing... and the word "bow-fishing" on his website... what else could I do?  A series of questions and emails later I was realizing that Bob had more than just a cursory familiarity with bow-fishing (which, honestly was was all I had been expecting) and I was sure I wanted to do this for Jess.  The problem was... the best time is a weekday night while it's hot out -- the season pretty much winds down at the end of September.  Uh... weekday night?  And I'm finding this out the night before school starts?  Ugh!   Not happy!  But on Tuesday while Jess is at school I ask more questions and talk with Carl... we are really hesitant on the weekday night thing, but know how great this could be for Jess...  we finally come to the conclusion that if we're going to do it, this week might be best -- hopefully the first week of school will have the least homework.  The only day we can do it would be Thursday, so I talk with Bob about that night, with the note that I'll need to talk to Jess about it when she comes home from her first day of high school.   

When I pick the girls up, Jess laments that all of her not-fun or hard classes were that day, why couldn't she have ONE fun class?  But... doing the math in my head I realized... that means her easy classes will be Friday this week... and the homework from the "hard" classes on Thursday won't be due until Monday!  How much more perfectly could that work out?  So I tell Jess about my conversations with Bob and of course she jumps on it with both feet. :)  A quick confirmation to Bob and we're set for Thursday night:  8-12pm near Salado -- an hour away.  On a school night.  We're nuts, right?  But... the first week of high school as a freshman had been kind of rough for Jess with several disappointments... so the timing of this bow-fishing trip seemed perfect.  Something to look forward to, and working perfectly with her class schedule, and only a few days after her bow-fishing gear had arrived.  Yup... God's looking out for my little girl. :)

When we arrived on Thursday, Bob worked with Jess, helping her get set up -- even putting some of his equipment on her bow.  Then the target practice -- shooting into water is vastly different than shooting at a target.  First -- and probably the hardest to learn to deal with -- is the refraction.  Water bends the light rays so that things are not really where they look like they are.  The rule of thumb Bob gave us was: shoot an inch low for every 10ft away your target is, and another inch low for every foot deep your target is.  That's a lot of math to be thinking about on the fly!  Bob was great working with her and she managed to hit the underwater target a few times before we headed out to find the fish.  It was a GORGEOUS night for it.  When we'd first pulled up, I'd noted a slight chop to the water and my heart had sunk a little - calm water would be best.  But when Bob took us out to the other side of the lake, the chop disappeared -- perfectly smooth.  The moon was up, the temps were comfortable, the sounds of wildlife around the lake (including some vocal coyotes), the smell and sounds of water... I think I could've been happy just lying out on the boat all night!  

Jess was out there for another purpose, though, and so the hunt began.. As we motored across the water, talking with Bob, we found he'd started bow-fishing when he was 11!   Bob took us right to the object of her pursuit and over the course of the night we saw (and Jess shot at) several gar and carp.  We saw a nice-sized drum, but it quickly darted into deeper water where we couldn't see him.  I was really glad for Bob's experience -- the water and terrain was much different than what I had grown up with, and I would've had a hard time spotting the fish without his help.  Let alone all the other guidance he gave Jess!   

Several of her shots over the next few hours came close -- she had really good left/right control, but that refraction (not to mention a moving target and limited vision) took some getting used to.  At one point she hit one, but lost it.  As we got closer and closer to that 12pm deadline,  I found myself silently praying "just one, God... just one."  And the closer we got, the more urgent that prayer got.  But all in His timing, right?  At about 11:50, Bob spied another fish and pointed Jess towards it...  she took her stance... sighted in... drew back... released... and I heard the water churn and my daughter, slightly surprised and unsure, turn to Bob and ask "What do I do now?"  :)  Bob coached her through letting the fish run and tire itself before pulling it back towards the boat.  He then instructed Carl to take the bow while Jess pulled the line in (by hand... we hadn't invested in a reel).  When it got closer, Bob handed me the spotlight so he could use both hands on the net... and when he pulled up the net I could see why.  The size of the fish really surprised me.  She'd put her arrow in the middle of a 9.25lb, 23.25" small-mouth Buffalo.  That may not seem so big hearing the stats... until you see it hanging from my daughter's hands!  Bob has filled out the paperwork and it looks like my little girl will hold the water-body record for a Jr Angler Bow-fish at Stillhouse Reservoir.  Very cool.

We arrived home after 2am with one very tired girl, but very happy girl.  The next afternoon, she was already looking up angling records, local lake info, and lamenting the fact that we don't have a boat.  The fish may have been on the receiving end of that shot... but my daughter is the one hooked. :)   And looking back, I can hardly believe how perfectly God arranged it all.  Perfect timing with school - needing something "good" this week; perfect timing with equipment -- having just received her stuff in the mail mere days before;  perfect timing with her classes -- knowing she'd have all weekend to do the homework in her "hard" courses; perfect guide in Bob (I really can't imagine anyone better out there to show her the ropes); perfect night -- weather and lack of boat traffic;  perfect timing for the catch -- late enough in the night for a build-up without the let-down of spending too long afterwards without a repeat; and one perfect shot for one perfectly ecstatic girl.  So what are the chances that all of that was coincidence -- along with the "accidental" discovery of Holding the Line Guide Services (and the perfect timing of finding it)?  Yeah... I thought not. 

Jesus always did have a special spot in his heart for fishermen, didn't he?   :)   


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spiritual Hypoglycemia

I come from a fairly strong family history of diabetes. It's probably not surprising then, that my sister was diagnosed with borderline hypoglycemia as a kid. That basically means that if you wait too long between meals your blood sugar goes too low. I had some of the same symptoms as a kid, and it still surfaces sometimes. The funny thing about hypoglycemia is that sometimes the very thing you need is the very thing you have absolutely no interest in. But I'm getting ahead of myself -- that comes a little later.

One of first signs of low blood sugar is probably an increased irritability. I, personally, don't notice this at first. ;) My family probably does, though! ;) Then a kind of shakiness can set in. I don't know that anyone could see it, but I feel it -- I'm weak and shaky (and by this point I'm usually aware I'm cranky). I know I need to eat. But sometimes I push it anyway -- maybe I'm in the middle of something; maybe no food is readily available; maybe I just don't think I can take the time at that precise moment. Really, I'm just too stubborn to take care of it right then -- I think I can handle it and push on through. So then I start feeling worse. Maybe a bit of a headache.... An inability to think straight and make decisions.... And a general "I don't wanna do anything" -- including eating. My body doesn't feel right. My stomach doesn't feel right. Nothing sounds good. And I just don't have the energy for it. Brilliant spot I've gotten myself into, right? It's at this point my husband will usually look at me (trying to keep from rolling his eyes, I'm sure) and say "You need to eat!" Then, basically, he makes me eat. LOL. It's crazy, but the one thing I need is the thing I'm the least interested in. I need intervention from my husband to do something as simple as remember to feed myself!

So why am I blogging about this? Because sitting in our worship service on Sunday, something our pastor said hit me. I can't even remember what it was that he said, but I remember the flash of light that went off in my head. I hate to admit it... but I think sometimes I suffer a little from Spiritual Hypoglycemia. I get busy, focused on other things, and I put off a meal... and before I know it... I'm probably a little more irritable than usual, but I'm busy and don't realize it.... Instead, I get a little more sidetracked (just leave me alone and let me get it done!). I pass the cranky stage and head into the shaky stage. Here, I'm a little off-balance, but stubbornness kicks in and I try to just keep going. Suddenly, before I know what has happened I am into the full-blown "I really don't wanna do anything -- even eat" stage. The very thing I really need the most, I have absolutely no interest in. Brilliant spot I've gotten myself into, right? I'm finally recognizing it for what it is, though -- Spiritual Hypoglycemia. I just need to eat!

So now the question.... are we in part responsible, then, for providing some intervention in the lives of those who seem to be a little hypoglycemic (spiritually, I mean?). Physically, my husband knows he needs to step in at times and make sure I have food in front of me. But spiritually... shouldn't we be mature enough to know we need to eat? I can't depend on someone to make me partake -- my spiritual health is my own responsibility, isn't it? Or is it? Because there is that community piece... watching out for and caring for a brother... and yet... we're each ultimately responsible for our own growth, aren't we? Hmmmm.... Thoughts?